Looking for a nerdy or geeky way to prank someone? Look no further. This guide contains the ultimate creative pranks to play on your friends using Windows.
If your friend is an avid user of Google’s browser, check out Chrome extensions for pranks.
- 1. Make Desktop Shortcuts Unclickable
- 2. Change the Mouse Cursor to Look Like It's Always Loading
- 3. Make Browser Shortcuts Always Open a Funny Webpage of Your Choice
- 4. Make Browser Shortcuts Start a Shutdown Command
- 5. Sabotage Microsoft Word’s Autocorrect to Insert Typos or Funny Phrases
- 6. Place a Scary Time-Dependent Message in the System Clock
- 7. Replace the Windows System Sounds With Funny Alternatives
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Make Desktop Shortcuts Unclickable
This is a devious, frustration-inducing prank that will make it seem like nothing on the computer is clickable.
- Close any open windows so that only the Windows desktop is visible, then press Windows + Shift + S to open the Snipping Tool (Snip & Sketch in Windows 10).
- Click the “Fullscreen mode” icon.
- This will instantly take a screenshot of the entire screen.
- Open the Paint app on your PC.
- Press Ctrl + V to paste the screenshot into Paint.
- Click “File -> Save as -> PNG picture” to save the file on your PC.
- Back in Paint, click “File -> Set as desktop background -> Fill.”
- Right-click an empty space in the Windows taskbar, then click “Taskbar settings.”
- Scroll down a bit and click “Taskbar behaviors,” then check “Automatically hide the taskbar.”
- Close the Settings app window, then press Ctrl + A to select every icon on the desktop or click and drag to manually select all of the visible icons.
- Hold down Ctrl and click the Recycle Bin to deselect it.
- Drag and drop the remaining selection into the Recycle Bin. This trashes all of the real icons on the desktop and leaves only the Recycle Bin. The icons will look like they’re still there, though!
- Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box. Type in
desk.cpl ,,5, then press “OK.”
- In the “Desktop Icon Settings” window, uncheck Recycle Bin.
- If you check the desktop now, all the icons will look perfectly normal. However, if you try to click, right-click, or interact with the icons in any way, nothing will happen. The icons in the taskbar will also not be clickable. Prank success!
Reverse the Prank
- If you want to undo the prank, repeat steps 12 and 13 above and check the Recycle Bin again to re-enable it.
- Double-click the restored Recycle Bin icon on the desktop to open it.
- Click “Original Location” to sort the deleted files by location, and you’ll see the Desktop icons rise to the top. You may have to click “View -> Details” first.
- Select those files, right-click them, then click “Restore.”
Have an extra game controller around the house? Learn how to use the controller as a mouse in Windows.
2. Change the Mouse Cursor to Look Like It’s Always Loading
This prank is guaranteed to annoy your victim by making it look like something never finishes loading.
- Press the Windows key, type “pointer,” then click “Change the mouse pointer display or speed.”
- Click “Pointers -> Normal Select -> Browse.”
- Click “aero_busy.ani” and hit “Open.”
- Click “Apply.” You should see that the “Busy” animation has replaced the “Normal Select” icon and that the mouse cursor is now a spinning blue loading animation wherever you point it!
3. Make Browser Shortcuts Always Open a Funny Webpage of Your Choice
Surprise your prank victims by making their browsers display hilarious or confusing web pages when opened.
- Right-click on a browser shortcut icon of your choice and click “Properties.”
- Switch to the “Shortcut” tab, click inside the “Target” text box, then paste the text
-url https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQat the very end, i.e., outside of the end quotation mark. The full text in the “Target” box should look something like the following:
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -url https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
- The YouTube URL links to “Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up (Official Music Video),” known for being used to rickroll people since 2008. You can replace this with any URL. Double-clicking the browser icon will open your chosen webpage.
This method will also work for browsers other than Firefox, such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
Tip: learn how to enable dark mode on Google Chrome.
4. Make Browser Shortcuts Start a Shutdown Command
This prank is sure to give people a fright by making it look like their browser is throwing a tantrum, refusing to work, and turning off the computer.
- Open the Notepad app on your PC.
- Paste in the text:
shutdown -s -f -t 60 -c "I'm tired of being your browser! I quit!"
- In the command above,
shutdownmeans you are invoking Windows shutdown, while the
-sflag specifies that you want a complete shutdown instead of a logoff. The
-fis there to force all open applications to close without any warning message and may result in unsaved data being lost.
-t 60means the shutdown will happen after 60 seconds. You can customize the number to any other number of seconds.
-c "I'm tired of being your browser! I quit!"will display the message inside the double quotes in a pop-up window. Of course, you can customize the message.
- Save it as a batch file by clicking “File -> Save as,” then browse to a location beside the desktop to keep this file hidden. Type .BAT (the batch file extension) at the end of the file name.
- Change “Save as type” to “All files.” Saving as a batch file is important, as Windows needs to know to interpret this file as a command instead of plain text.
- Find your saved file, right-click on it, and click “Copy as path.”
- View the desktop, right-click on a browser shortcut icon and click “Properties.” We’ll use Mozilla Firefox in this example.
- Under the “Shortcut” tab, delete everything in the “Target” text box and replace it with the .BAT file path.
- You should see the browser icon change.
- Still in the “Shortcut” tab, click “Change icon” to see an alert window appear. Hit “OK.”
- When you see the “Change Icon” window, click “Browse.”
- Browse to the installation location (usually a folder inside “C:\Program Files”) of the browser’s executable file. Look for a file that has the same icon that the original browser shortcut icon had and click “Open.”
- You should see the “Change Icon” window populated with icons related to the browser. Choose the one that looks closest to the original icon, which is usually the first one on the list.
- Back in the browser shortcut properties window, click “Apply” to see that the desktop icon has been updated with the original browser icon.
- Double-click the browser icon to see Windows display a shutdown alert with your custom message!
Fun fact: shutting down the computer on a timer is a seriously useful trick and not just for pranking people.
5. Sabotage Microsoft Word’s Autocorrect to Insert Typos or Funny Phrases
This prank is perfect for anyone who regularly uses Microsoft Word.
- In Microsoft Word, type “autocorrect” in the search bar at the top, then click “Options: Spelling and Proofing,” or go to “File -> Options -> Proofing.”
- In the window that appears, click the “AutoCorrect Options” button.
- Replace the word “the” with the word “thé” which includes an accent mark. Make sure the “Replace text as you type” option is checked at the top and click “Add.”
- You can keep adding funny text replacements, like replacing the word “good” with “terrible.” When you’re done, click “OK” at the bottom.
- Return to the Word document and try typing something. You’ll notice that words will automatically be replaced by the new ones you specified.
As an aside, this prank doubles as a productivity tip that can help you write faster. You can replace certain abbreviations for phrases like “omg” with “oh my god” in order to type the full phrase.
6. Place a Scary Time-Dependent Message in the System Clock
If you know someone who uses their Windows PC all day, you can give them a funny or scary message at noon.
- Press the Windows key, type “region,” then click the “Region” option with the colorful globe icon, NOT “Region settings.”
- Click “Additional settings” in the window that appears.
- Click the “Time” tab, then type in your message in the “PM symbol” text box.
- You will see your hilarious (or terrifying) result!
Note: these instructions will display the message when the time switches to a PM time. You can easily do the reverse or have the message always visible if you also change the “AM symbol” text.
7. Replace the Windows System Sounds With Funny Alternatives
You can replace a few or even all of the Windows sounds with sounds that are hilarious or unexpected.
- Open the Settings app and click on “Sound.”
- Scroll down to “More sound settings” and click it.
- Switch to the “Sounds” tab. In the “Program Events” section, click on the type of sound you want to replace, then click “Browse.”
- Browse to a new sound, which must be a .WAV file. Select the new file and click “Open.”
- The new sound will be applied to the event you picked! Replace more sounds if you wish. How about making the PC sound haunted with one of these ghostly sound schemes?
Want to have even more fun in Windows? Check out the best Windows 10 and 11 Easter eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I abort a Windows shutdown command in the terminal?
If you’ve accidentally given the command to shut down a computer but want to stop it, open the Terminal app, type the command
shutdown -a, then press Enter. You should see a Windows notification letting you know that the shutdown process was canceled.
Can I disable just the Windows system sounds?
Yes. You can leave the browser, applications, or games at full volume, while only disabling Windows system sounds via “Settings app -> Sound -> More sound settings -> Sounds.” Click the “Sound Scheme” drop-down and select “No Sounds.”
What are some text replacements I can set up with autocorrect to type faster?
Many programs have the ability to automatically replace typed with some other text you specify. Listed here are some ideas for abbreviation replacements to quickly type a lot of words:
- fwiw: for what it’s worth
- iirc: if I remember correctly
- afaik: as far as I know
- tbh: to be honest
- omw: on my way
Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Brandon Li.
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